2010 Recruiting: 10 Commits Who Might Have Chosen the Wrong Program
Most who follow recruiting believe that a majority of players wind up choosing the school that is the best fit for them.
But hindsight is 20/20. And for those few players who do slip through the cracks, the wrong program can sometimes be the difference between boom and bust.
What seemed a record number of late decisions and eleventh-hour switches in the 2010 class deserves a closer examination. Did these recruits choose the best program for them? Or just the one that was recruiting them the hardest?
No knock on their abilities is intended, but here are 10 players who might have made their success a little harder to come by.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Put simply, Marcus Lattimore is talented enough to succeed anywhere.
But there are programs all across the country that have turned out more guaranteed, NFL-ready running backs than the one Steve Spurrier is running at South Carolina.
I know from (unfairly) ragging on Stephen Garcia that the Gamecocks had their share of offensive line issues last year, and I'm all for "turning an embattled program around" and "filling in the one missing piece."
But despite staying in-state, Lattimore's choice is actually the riskier option since, in my opinion, the Spurrier experiment has a 50/50 chance of succeeding. Mid-90's-era Florida this is not.
In my opinion, fellow five-star Michael Dyer's commitment to Auburn wasn't a threat, since Lattimore is the better back no matter how you slice it.
I'm guessing this was more a case of a kid who got so tired of the exhausting recruiting process that staying home became the most appealing option.
I think the Tigers were the better choice. Lattimore has the opportunity to prove that wrong, and make a South Carolina a true SEC contender in the process. That kind of risk is commendable.
Keenan Allen, S, Cal
Don't get me wrong, I think Keenan Allen will have a successful career at Cal. Any above-average talent is going to shine in a pass defense that finished 111th in the country last year.
But Scout's top safety chose the Golden Bears over Alabama on signing day.
I will bregrudgingly admit that Alabama has one of the best secondary coaching staffs in the nation, if not the best.
After all, Nick Saban can't help but talk X's and O's on his radio call-in show. Most coaches give pattycake answers about "competing" and "being fired up," but not Saban.
Allen has enough talent to excel before going pro, but a little ex-NFL coaching never hurt a player's draft stock in the long run.
Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee
I mean no offense to the Vols, but I really liked Da'Rick Rogers original decision to join the Georgia Bulldogs.
Lined up across from AJ Green, the SEC's top returning wide receiver, would've been very conducive to putting up freshman all-conference numbers for Rogers, and maybe an All-American year for one or both of them.
As it is, Rogers joins one of the SEC's most decimated offenses on the offensive line and, with Montario Hardesty's graduation and Bryce Brown's transfer, in the backfield.
Yes, the quarterback situation in Knoxville is breathing new life, but there are red flags almost everywhere else. The news of top returning tackle Aaron Douglas' transfer is grim indeed.
Plus, who was Tennessee's last great wide receiver?
It seems like more work than should be necessary for Da'Rick to make a name for himself.
Robert Bolden, QB, Penn State
Between Paul Jones and Robert Bolden, I think Bolden will be the odd man out in the Penn State quarterback race.
Both recruits are talented enough to start in a college program (Bolden was Rivals' no. 2 dual-threat QB, while Jones was Scout's no. 3 QB overall), yet neither can expect significant playing time with the presence of the other. Plus, sophomore Kevin Newsome will probably get the nod, and could start for the next three years.
Bolden is the rawer passer of the two. He played out of scheme at his high school, Orchard Lake, and plateaued on the fundamentals.
His talents are misapplied at Penn State, which, in spite of running the spread, keeps a tight leash on its quarterback and puts unconventional players like Bolden in a box.
Plus, Jones got the jump on Bolden by enrolling early for spring practice.
It may well be Jones who turns out to be the odd man out. Either way, one of these players will be unfairly riding the bench, and a transfer might be in order.
Kadron Boone, WR, LSU
I've made peace with Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech, and think the Airraid, or at least some form of up-tempo passing offense, will persist in Lubbock.
For that reason, I was bummed wide receiver Kadron Boone switched his commitment from Texas Tech to LSU.
In Tech's offense, a Biletnikoff award is a real possibility for a receiver of Boone's ability. Boone, Rivals' no. 12 talent, is large and athletic, and can get separation off the line of scrimmage with a variety of quick-twitch moves. When I read "catches everything thrown his way" I picture someone who could have really succeeded within the demands of the Airraid.
(For what it's worth, Crabtree was Rivals' No. 16 receiver back in 2006.)
LSU's offense is a question mark at this point, and that's putting it kindly. Two years' worth of talented wide receivers with great recruiting buzz have come through Baton Rouge without making many waves in the conference or the nation.
A lot of people believe next year will be when it gels for the Tigers. I'll reserve further judgment until its complete.
Anthony Barr, RB/OLB, UCLA
It's not that I think little of UCLA or Rick Neuheisel. I know they've struggled with offensive line depth and talent at the skill positions.
But I'm a real believer in Brian Kelly's passing system. I think the Irish coach could've made Barr into a top threat at a hybrid tight end/wide receiver position, a position which Barr seems born to play.
Just think: Kelly's Bearcats were one of the top 10 teams in the country at converting in the red zone. A player with Barr's size and hands might have caught double-digit touchdowns as a freshman.
And excuses aside, the accusations that Neuheisel and OC Norm Chow have been making criminal misuse of their available talent by using predictable patterns and schemes are troubling.
Do they have at least a kernel of truth to them? Randall Carroll might know. He's another athletic player (albeit with speed, not size) who barely saw action at receiver or all-purpose back last year.
If Barr ends up on defense, the question is moot. But if he cracks the offense, I consider Chow on trial.
William Gholston, DE/OLB, Michigan State
Michigan State might look like an up-and-coming program with an underdog head coach in a state where the winds are shifting.
But even if its a fair prediction, William Gholston's commitment to MSU looks like a premature entrance on Sparty's road to relevance.
And when you factor in the bizarre story of Gholston living his life on lockdown by an MSU booster, you start to wonder if Sparty was his best option.
Plus, it's Michigan State, homeboy. Didn't you know they were a basketball school?
Ivan McCartney, WR, West Virginia
Between Miami (FL) and West Virginia, I'd take the Hurricanes' pro-style passing offense over the pseudo-spread-and-shred in Morgantown any day.
That's probably what made Ivan McCartney's decision so prolonged and agonizing. He weighed the swagger of Miami versus with West Virginia's favorable depth chart situation.
In the end, the 'Eers' favorable depth chart won the day, as it tends to do with recruits looking to make a splash. And McCartney's past relationship with WVU's Geno Smith at QB will help immediately with chemistry. But that depth was probably low on elite recruits for a reason.
If McCartney doesn't get the touches he thinks he will, it'll likely be the system and not him failing.
Dominique Easley, DE/DT, Florida
Easley is another example of a player who, in my opinion, was committed to a program that held more promise for him, but decided to switch.
In Easley's case, the original program was Penn State, which traditionally sends top defensive linemen and linebackers to the NFL and has a low boom-to-bust ratio.
The new program was Florida, which has dealt with multiple off-the-field problems from its players, and in particular, its defensive linemen, in recent years. Under Meyer, it's defensive linemen have also seemed to struggle in the NFL.
Derrick Morgan is a certified NFL bust. Carlos Dunlap chose the wrong time to put the classical music station on during a long drive home. Gary Brown has been kicked out. Torrey Davis saw the field only sparingly and left the program early. John Brown also transferred.
Additionally, Meyer's health problems, coupled with multiple coaching changes, have destabilized the Florida coaching ranks. Any relationships Easley struck up on the recruiting trail may be compromised down the road.
To be fair, Penn State's had its share of off-the-field issues, especially recently. And Joe Paterno isn't exactly the picture of health. But few programs are considering poaching the defensive coaching staff in Happy Valley, and it's not because they're not talented; it's because they're stable.
Plus, no one is writing about the plausibility of a curse on PSU's defensive linemen. Heck, defensive end Jared Odrick was the Big Ten's defensive player of the year last year, though whether he deserved it is a different matter entirely.
For Easley, more stable and fundamental coaching on (and off) the field in Happy Valley might have been called for over the Gators' glitz.
Seantrel Henderson, OT, USC
For a player who showed motivational issues on the Army All-American practice field, and a queasy flair for the dramatic in the recruitosphere, USC has to be one of the worst possible destinations for Seantrel Henderson.
Pardon my frankness, but Lane Kiffin is a dirty, dirty football coach. His lack of moral fortitude off the field could be a destructive influence on a player who has already imbibed too much of his own Kool-Aid.
I'm not concerned with USC's current offensive line coach, James Cregg, who came with Kiffin from Tennessee, where he molded the Vols into a fucntional run-blocking unit and put Aaron Douglas on the All-Freshman conference team.
Nor can I say that USC has a precedent for producing busts on the O-line. The Trojans will be putting at least two—and maybe more—players in the first four rounds of the NFL draft come April.
But Seantrel could have used a bit more moral guidance in his development as a player and as a person than the kind Kiffin has to offer.